London Highbury Garage

The early-'80s weren't meant to be remembered fondly by anyone with a modicum of cool.

The early-’80s weren’t meant to be remembered fondly by anyone with a modicum of cool. Which suits [a]Bis[/a] – persistent thorn in the side of the serious brigade – just fine. Having long discarded their shrill lo-fi racket, and their brief flirtation with 2-Tone, they’ve plumped instead for the [a]Tears For Fears[/a] revival.

You can hear it loud and extremely proud on ‘Dead Wrestlers’, from new mini-album, ‘Music For A Stranger World’. Even more so on ‘Eurodisco’, just about the oldest song played tonight and a dead-ringer for [a]Tears For Fears[/a]’ ‘Change’. But such unabashed retro-rocking simply serves to make [a]Bis[/a] a far cooler prospect than ever.

Like sometime mentors the Beastie Boys, [a]Bis[/a] revel in toying with people’s ideas of credibility – never scared to declare a love for that which was considered irretrievably naff. Hence tonight’s set is a synth-pop trainspotter’s wet dream, where Gary Numan and Fad Gadget scurry around behind Manda Rin‘s Lene Lovich vocals.

What really pisses off the cynics is that [a]Bis[/a] are still just about the most punk rock band on the planet. The bouncing and sloganeering is still there but now it seems less childish and more an exhortation to cast off the shackles of adult inhibition. You can join them if you just remember that pop was always meant to be this much fun.